Rowing golden girl Kim Brennan wants to help Australian Olympic dreams

Olympic champion Kim Crow will be Australia's deputy chef de mission in Tokyo. Picture: Melissa Adams
Olympic champion Kim Crow will be Australia's deputy chef de mission in Tokyo. Picture: Melissa Adams

Australian rowing golden girl Kim Brennan says she will channel her competitive instincts into Olympic Games administration roles as she prepares for the next phase of her career.

Brennan won the highest individual prize in world rowing on the weekend, claiming the Thomas Keller Medal for her contribution to the sport over 11 years.

The next challenge will be helping Australia's top athletes chase gold at the Tokyo Olympics next year, stepping into a role as the team's deputy chef de mission for the Games.

Brennan was one of Australia's shining lights at a disappointing Rio Olympics three years ago, carrying the flag into the closing ceremony after winning gold in the single sculls.

She officially retired 12 months ago and now hopes to help others deal with the pressure and expectation of stepping on to the biggest stage in world sport.

"I must say I still have a little competitive edge that finds its way out every now and again," Brennan said.

"But mostly I've loved playing a different role and supporting our current athletes who are doing an absolutely tremendous job.

"... [As deputy chef de mission] I've realised I quite like dealing in ambiguity, pressure, complexity and heightened emotions of major events. It makes you feel pretty alive.

"I'm excited about the challenge of playing whatever role is required of me to enable our athletes to perform at their best come their finals days."

The two-time world champion was honoured at a function in London on the weekend, with the Thomas Keller Medal recognising outstanding success and sportsmanship.

Brennan paid tribute to coach Lyall McCarthy, husband Scott and Rowing Australia for the roles they played in her glittering career.

"I was incredibly surprised," Brennan said before flying back to Canberra.

"I think I'm lucky the award is about more than on water performance, because I think I'm accurate in saying I was the least medalled candidate among the finalists.

"One of the things I've always loved about rowing is the importance of service, community and sportsmanship. I would love my role in the sport to be measured not by my results, but hopefully by leaving the sport in a better place than I found it.

"I still find so much joy in giving back and seeing the success of the next generation of rowers and hope to involved in rowing in a different capacity long into the future."

Brennan has had plenty to keep her busy since stepping out of the boat. She gave birth to son Jude last year, traveled to Kafue in Zambia as part of the World Rowing clean water project, is a director of the Australian Sports Foundation, is on the Australian Olympic Committee athletes' commission and works at Ernst and Young.

But does she miss rowing?

"I miss that moment of calmness at the beginning of a race where you put aside your nerves and fears, take a breath and enter that state of flow," Brennan said.

Meanwhile, Canberra rower Kathryn Ross was named the para-athlete of the year at the Rowing Australia awards on Saturday night.

This story 'I've still got a competitive edge': Golden girl channels Olympic passion first appeared on The Canberra Times.